John Schuhmann writes this weekend about the Nets big turnaround and how it's been driven by its defense and depth.
Schuhmann contrasts the Nets horrid D before January 1 and how the new lineup of Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston in the backcourt and Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce has improved the team's play ... and prospects.
"Typically, teams play faster and are better offensively and worse defensively when they play small," Schuhmann writes.
"The Brooklyn Nets are different."
He explains that the big problem before the transition was injury ... and the dropoff defensively when the starters weren't on the floor.
"The Nets’ issues started with the lack of minutes (just 90 over 10 games before Lopez broke his foot) that their $82 million starting lineup played together," he notes. "It was their other combinations that were truly awful defensively.
"Their bench units are still pretty bad defensively. But since Jan. 1, their starters, with either Deron Williams or Alan Anderson as the third guard, have been ridiculously good on that end of the floor."
On offense, Schuhmann writes the bench's skills (with everyone healthy) are increasingly important.
"It makes you realize that, even though Lopez is done for the season, the Nets are still one of the deepest teams in the league, so deep that Jason Terry got a DNP on Thursday," he notes. "The talent was always there. The healthy bodies were not. Ironically, Lopez’s injury has helped the Nets find an identity that works and start to live up to their lofty expectations."
Nets Smaller Starters Playing Elite D - John Schuhmann - NBA.com